People seemed to like my personal finance posts from the past few months about things like getting rid of cable and saving money on food, so I figured I’d share some other small changes we’ve made over the past year to keep more of the money we’ve earned. If you’re keeping score you’ll notice these expense savings can add up to a lot more financial security with just a little bit of effort.
Mowing your own lawn and plowing your own snow. Savings: $150/month
I used to make fun of a friend who mowed his own lawn. “Why would you waste an hour on your day off when it’s only $40 to have someone mow for you?” Tough talk, but then I would find myself shamefully closing all the curtains in my house and hiding when the guys would come to mow the lawn because I was embarrassed to be sitting around while they did my job for me.
I’ve since gotten my act together and found a new love for mowing the lawn and plowing snow. It’s kind of fun pushing around heavy machinery, and if you use push mowers/blowers like me (self-propelled and riders are for wimps) you are guaranteed to get a nice 400+ calorie-burn workout once a week or so.
Cutting your own hair. Savings: $50/month for 1 dad and 1 boy
I know, this one sounds a little crazy, but bear with me.
A quick note: I only know about cutting my hair and my son’s hair – Kelly still needs to go to the salon every so often. Oh, and if the $50/month sounds steep, that’s because I liked going to a high-end barbershop that offered shoe shines and cold beer. But those days are gone now.
So cutting your own hair is a little tricky at first, and you have to be OK with having one or two less-than-perfect hair cuts. All you need is a hand-held mirror, electric clippers with guards, and a computer that can access YouTube “men’s haircut” videos.
It’s easier than it sounds. I start with a 6 and cut from my hairline on the back and sides up to the crown of my head. Then I use a 7 and 8 on the top, and fade the sides working down from the 6 area with a 4, 3, and then 2 at the very bottom. Jack gets the same cut.
I’ve been cutting my own hair for over a year now and no one has noticed. Maybe they’re just being polite. Either way I’m happy to keep saving the dough and the trip to the barbershop.
Doing your own shirt laundry: Savings: $50/month
Dry cleaning is a real gyp. First of all, dry cleaning your suits too often will cause them to wear out faster – once or twice a year is sufficient. And dry cleaning ties is just silly, unless you get a mustard stain on it or something, and in that case they probably won’t get it out anyway.
Dry cleaning your shirts is the real waste of money I’m addressing here. I have to wear a dress shirt to work every day and I work 20 days each month. It’s at least $2 to have the dry cleaners clean and press the shirts, plus you have to drive back and forth to the cleaners all those times. With the same effort you can just wash, dry and iron your own dress shirts and get the same results. The results part is all about your ironing skills. And if you like the stiffness of a dry cleaned shirt (I don’t), then just buy a can of starch for $1.
Anyway, there’s a few more tips for you for keeping more of the money you earn. That’s $250/month right there – like getting a $5,000 raise! I’ll keep you posted on other cost saving ideas as we figure them out.